New Defense Act Expected to Save 122nd and A-10s for 2013

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

December 21, 2012 Updated Dec 21, 2012 at 6:12 PM EST

Washington D. C. (www.incnow.tv) - There’s a sense of relief in the air at Fort Wayne's Air National Guard base.

Members of the 122nd Fighter Wing are celebrating a vote on Capitol Hill that would keep A-10 fighter jets at the local base.

The only downside is, for how long.

A House of Representatives bill approved Thursday night by a three to one margin aims to ensure that A-10s will remain stationed at the Fort Wayne base at least until October 2013.

3rd district Congressman Marlin Stutzman said the action is a victory for Indiana and the citizen soldiers who fly the A-10s.

The senate and President Obama must also endorse the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure at least 20 of the valued military planes remain in Fort Wayne through fiscal year 2013.

But there is every indication both will sign off on the bill.

If you recall, guard officials in Fort Wayne got nervous when back in February they were told the base would be losing the A-10s, and that MC-12 surveillance planes would be transferred here instead.

" With the MC-12, they were going to reduce the base by 40 percent on our personnel, so there's a lot of excited places like our weapons and munitions element. Their jobs will stay, we will be in fighters," said Colonel David Augustine, the base commander.

But the chance to breathe a sigh of relief is somewhat temporary.

Federal government officials will soon begin the task of preparing the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Will that plan keep the A-10s here?

There are no guarantees.

The fact that money is so tight in Washington could work in the favor of the Fort Wayne Air Guard base.

Congress wants to save money at every turn right now, and the air guard makes the argument that it operates the local base at 28 cents on the dollar when compared to active duty forces.

Colonel Augustine says once the short-term future of the 122nd Fighter Wing is secure, work will commence on becoming an Active Association bringing almost 50 active duty Air Force airmen to Fort Wayne.

Beyond that, Colonel Augustine envisions Fort Wayne soon launching a campaign to try and be selected as an Air National Guard Joint Strike Fighter base, to host the next generation F-35 fighter jets.

That could secure the future of the base for more than a half century.




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